James Brady’s death ruled a homicide

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The District of Columbia’s medical examiner on Friday ruled that former White House press secretary James Brady was the victim of a homicide.

The coroner said Brady’s death earlier this week was the result of injuries he suffered when shot during the 1981 assassination attempt on former President Ronald Reagan.

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Gunman John Hinckley Jr. could be charged with Brady's murder, according to NBC News, which first obtained the medical examiner’s report.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to inquires about whether they would pursue charges.

Brady, 73, was paralyzed in the shooting outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. He became a prominent gun control activist, using the incident to promote the 1993 legislation requiring background checks that bears his name.

Hinckley was indicted on 13 counts, including the attempted assassination of the president, assault of a Secret Service agent and the use of a firearm in the commission of a federal offense. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has remained in institutional psychiatric care.

Controversy erupted last decade when a federal judge ruled that Hinckley could be allowed extended visits to his parents home in Williamsburg, Va. 

Hinckley has gradually earned greater latitude, and last year, a federal judge said Hinckley could spend 17 days a month at the family home. 

In a statement on Monday, President Obama said that "an untold number of people are alive today who otherwise wouldn't be" thanks to Brady's advocacy efforts following the shooting.

"Jim is a legend at the White House for his warmth and professionalism as press secretary for President Reagan; for the strength he brought to bear in recovering from the shooting that nearly killed him 33 years ago; and for turning the events of that terrible afternoon into a remarkable legacy of service through the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence," the president said. 

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